Review

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel Review (PC)

Blizzard teased Diablo fans earlier this year to an impressive degree. All it took was 30 minutes of gameplay and sales of Diablo 1 and 2 skyrocketed. A new generation of gamers is preparing itself to hack and slash their lives away. Why is this relevant for a review of Ascaron’s Sacred 2: Fallen Angel? The reason being, if you find yourself trawling the web for an unseen piece of Diablo concept art, it would be more productive if you directed your efforts towards Sacred 2.

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel is the prequel to the 2004 RPG PC hit. An astonishing 1.8 million copies of the original Sacred were sold, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that German-based developers, Ascaron have been hard at work on a sequel for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. The console versions aren’t due until the 10th February 2009, but PC gamers need not wait any longer. An answer to the ‘loot-based-Diablo-drought’ problem has been provided.


Ring of Power
Giddy up

For those unfamiliar with the Sacred series, it’s necessary to fill in the plot gaps. Fallen Angel takes place two millennia before the original game. Set in a 3D fantasy realm that goes by the name of Ancaria, players are asked to follow either a Light or Shadow (dark) campaign path. Depending on the player’s choice, you’ll either find yourself battling for the greater good or manipulating others in an effort to spread the ideas of evil. An oddly named force known as ‘T-Energy’ is the reason behind the game’s factions struggle for power.

Cue your typical notions of grandeur, swordplay and underdeveloped story which wishes it was Lord of the Rings. The game’s narrative isn’t going to win any awards for originality and neither is the rinsed to death setting, but it’s a coherent exploration of ideas and the locality fits the overarching plot. In-engine cut scenes move the game along and simple text sets up the aim of quests. Character development is fairly shallow (in a characterisation sense) and any voice acting that’s presented is either woefully static or overly melodramatic.

Luckily where Sacred 2 fails in ‘original’ storytelling, it makes up in its gameplay. Fallen Angel is as addictive as they come. Following the same lines as Diablo and the underrated Titan Quest, Ascaron have created a game that has one simple philosophy: all you need to enjoy an RPG is increasingly difficult mob and randomly generated loot. That’s not to say Sacred 2 is simply a grind through dingy dungeons against repetitive mobs.

Like any RPG from the last 20 years, the game starts off with the picking of a class with humorous names. Each profession has its specific advantages / disadvantages ranging from the magical High Elf; the brooding Inquistor; the cyborg Temple Guardian or the returning Seraphim. Once you’ve chosen your character’s path and which campaign (some are campaign locked while others have the choice of ether good and bad), it’s time to take control of your Level 1 hero clad in typical rusty gear.


Decimation
‘Minionfied’

For those new to the concept of hack-and-slash RPGs, the game provides hints and tips along the side of the screen. Everyone else will feel right at home. Right click (or WASD / your personal bound equivalent) moves your character about, while Left Clicking interacts with gates, chests, doors, menus and combat. There’s your usual range of easy-access hotkeys along the bottom which allows quick switching of abilities, weapons and potions. The customizable minimap is a nice touch and occupies the top right corner. The remaining interaction is via easily navigated menus. It’s difficult to find Sacred 2 daunting, even if you’re completely new to the genre. Everything is clearly signposted, laid out and logically presented. It’s clean and responsive.

All that’s left to comment on is the actual slashing. Depending on your choice of class, you’ll either be inflicting pain through melee, ranged or magical means. Targeting is a simple click affair and your character will automatically attack. Right clicking will unleash whatever deadly ability you have bound to it. HP bars and coloured damage numbers convey how you’re doing. Anyone who’s played World of Warcraft will notice similarities, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you consider how well the system works. Killing enemies will reward you with XP, gold and loot. The game includes a handy ‘pick-up-everything-in-a-set-radius’ button that reduces the fiddling about.

A traditional inventory system lets players drag ever increasingly powerful gear while also offering the option of selling gear away from the towns at a reduced price. Skill management is similarly simple and a nice combo system allows for you to customize up to five unique combinations how you see fit. Artefacts, Alchemy, Resurrection stones, fast-travel portals and outposts litter the world in an effort to streamline the game so you spend the majority of your time picking up loot and chopping up enemies. Finally you’ve got mounts which allow for faster traversing of the 22km squared world.


Super Electric
Burn Baby Burn

All this combines to create a polished and extremely addictive game. Alongside the 100+ core campaign quests, there are literally hundreds of side quests that range from A to B letter taking; kill x number of x to rescue captured soldiers. Sacred compliments all this with a 5 player cooperative ‘drop-in-drop-out’ online / LAN multiplayer system that means the fun can be shared with friends. It ups the addiction factor by 10 and it becomes seriously damaging to ones other gaming commitments. Throw a 16 player PvP system into the mix and Sacred 2 gives its competitors a serious run for their money.


The cherry on the top is that despite all this, Sacred 2 manages to compliment the fun factor with a lush game engine. Once patched to the latest version, any previous crashes and bugs disappear and the bright, colourful fantasy world comes to life with vivid vegetation, fancy spell effects, detailed character models and charming environments. It looks the part, sounds the part and plays the part. Expect big things when this hits the consoles as the world erupts in an addiction fest all the way to level 200.

Top Game Moment: LOOT!

Videos

Comments

By V4ndall (SI Veteran Member) on Nov 17, 2008
V4ndall
I'm not much of a H&S fun so my opinion is quite useless but I liked Two Worlds more... Not that Sacred ain't playable or something. Only the water looks weird.
By Kres (SI Elite) on Nov 18, 2008
Kres
Is it me or do graphics look a bit outdated. Kind of expected to see a release date of 2003. Don't like spreading that mood just for graphics since gameplay appears to be rock solid.
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Nov 19, 2008
FoolWolf
Well i played and to some degree enjoyed Sacred, however, the experience were not without flaws, huge such. Sacred were near unplayable with several borken quests, bugs and many flaws in design that weren't fixed properly until around a year after first release. This made each patch a hell, many had problems with the copy protection making it hard to verify that the correct CD were in the drive and later on with the Gold edition they decided it was a good idea to smack StarForce on it.

After reading several reviews I find that this game, continuing the bad parts of Seraphim as "robots" with ligh sabers etc is maybe not what I'm looking for. The activation plan, however simplified and lenient it is, shows that they disregard the end user and have little thought to consequences and logic. (Easily broken by pirates makes the activation and de-activation requirement only a nuicanse to those who paid real money for the product.)
Also, there seems to be plenty of bugs in this game and knowing Ascaron, they will probably deal with it, but in what time?
I will save myself some bucks and wait for Diablo III instead, I espacially like the first ideas for playable characters in Diablo III somewhat more then Sacred 2's list.
By V4ndall (SI Veteran Member) on Nov 19, 2008
V4ndall
Well I mean no offence in general but I find it that German games excel in code bloat choppy engines and bugs :/ Take Gothic 3 for instance. Only the Far Cry seemed otherwise...
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Nov 21, 2008
FoolWolf
Arrrgh! You had to do it, didn't you? Comming here and mentionen Gothic 3 just like that? That's almost rude ;)

Man, I looked forward to Gothic 3 so much and when I got it, I was soooo disapointed, angry, frustrated and just severaly astonished over the bad design, crappy functionality and very poor gameplay in general. There was dpth, nice going story and openess, nice ideas but to cluttered and clunky to be fun to play through...
By V4ndall (SI Veteran Member) on Nov 21, 2008
V4ndall
Come on, G3 is my standard disappointment example :P
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Nov 22, 2008
FoolWolf
LOL! :)
Yeah, that's understandable, G3 was really a huge disapointment. Another game that was a huge disapoinmet was all the follow ups for X-com Ufo and Terror from the deep and another all time high was Summoner.
By V4ndall (SI Veteran Member) on Nov 23, 2008
V4ndall
Heheh, indeed X-Com Apocalypse was like a slap in the face, but G3 with its disappearing quest NPCs and other show stopping bugs, is my personal favourite :P
By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 06, 2008
Nicolas19
I've played the demo, but Titan Quest is far better. You're right, the graphics aren't top notch, but fine. My problem are the idiotic characters, overused fantasy-setting and unatmospheric music.
By Z6D03L (SI Newbie) on Dec 10, 2008
Z6D03L
I've played Sacred 2 and it still has a lot of bugs. And yes the characters was a bit of a disappointment. They could have given all of them a choice of either Light of Dark and not make the Sorceress the Alpha and Omega of the game (Again).
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 10, 2008
nobuargaoda
Are you kidding? Titan Quest is far more better than Sacred 2.... Not only the character, but also the environment, music, gameplay,......
I think they can do better than this!
By Z6D03L (SI Newbie) on Dec 11, 2008
Z6D03L
I do agree with nobuargaoda that Titan Quest is Far Better Than Sacred 2...